DIY centre welcomed by some in Stow

A NEW DIY and garden centre which could create 35 new jobs has been welcomed by chamber of commerce and civic leaders in Stowmarket.Focus (DIY) wants to build near the town centre on land off Gipping Way and Bridge Street, opposite the lorry park.

A NEW DIY and garden centre which could create 35 new jobs has been welcomed by chamber of commerce and civic leaders in Stowmarket.

Focus (DIY) wants to build near the town centre on land off Gipping Way and Bridge Street, opposite the lorry park.

The new centre would create a mixture of full and part-time jobs and be open from 7.30am until 8pm Monday to Saturday, and 10am until 4pm on Sundays.

The development would include parking for 120 cars and the town council hopes it would encourage people to stay and shop in Stowmarket rather than driving to Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds.

Civic leaders also hope if Focus (DIY) gains permission for the store it will act as a catalyst to other major chains, attracting them to Stowmarket. The chamber of commerce has recently criticised the number of charity shops in the town, concerned at the loss of major chain stores.

The town council has recommended the development is given the go-ahead when Mid Suffolk District Council debates the planning application, although they have some concerns about the design of the building and the need for landscaping.

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Mayor Keith Scarff, said: "This must help the town, it's something we have wanted for some time and can only improve business for Stowmarket.''

Marilyn Finbow, a trader, member of the town's chamber of commerce, town and district councillor, said she hoped the move would signal to other major chains that Stowmarket is a good place to trade.

She said: "We have been hoping for a DIY store for years. This will be good for the town, good for businesses and will create jobs.

"I am really convinced that once we get a larger store in the town, that will give confidence to other larger stores to come too. This is near the town centre, this is what we have been waiting for.''

Russell Gant, deputy town clerk, said: "From the town council's point of view something that will keep people in the town at weekends, rather than shopping in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, is a good thing."

But David Narey, a partner in Narey's Garden Centre which he runs with his mother Joan, said: "I will object. Locally you have us, and Roots and Shoots, and for DIY you have Hopgoods and Jewsons and a B&Q warehouse ten minutes away.

"This will not do us any good. It will not be new trade, just existing trade split more ways. The only new things we seem to get are repetition of what is already here, shoe shops, banks, take-aways.''

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